This is a serious question. Why is forgiveness such a difficult thing to carry out and why is it such a struggle to abide in it?
I remember as a young person reading Jesus’ words and thinking about how outrageous they were, to the point of being silly.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:21-22).
I remember thinking, “that’s nuts! There’s no way I’m doing that!” Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 are even more jaw-dropping:
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matt. 6:14-15).
In light of how difficult it is to forgive those who have hurt us, Jesus’ words can seem almost cruel. I’m convinced that they’re not. But I’d like to take seriously why the call to forgive seems so difficult.
So this is a serious question, and I’m not looking for simplistic answers or even the right answer: Why is it so difficult? What is it about our hearts, our fears, our trust in one another, and our experiences that makes us resistant and reluctant to forgive?
How do you find yourself rationalizing not forgiving someone? As a bit of help, how would you complete the following sentence?
I’m not forgiving him because _____ .